One of the best things about traveling is the magic of the unfamiliar. Knowing that there is a discovery or the possibility of adventure on every street and around every street corner simply because you don’t know them as well as the streets in your own city or neighbourhood has a certain magic to it. It’s the excitement of being a tourist without a plan, just a wanderer.
Perhaps it is the writer in me, but I have found that wandering often makes me think of stories. Rather, I often feel like I’ve stumbled into a story, or a moment in a story. I ask myself, what will happen next? Or what happened before all this? And that feeling is quite magical too. Much like the magic of the unfamiliar.
Two Sundays ago, I had the rare and lovely opportunity of feeling that magic in my own city. Along with a friend, Sipat Lawin Ensemble‘s JK Anicoche, I was running from The Manila Collectible rooftop to the NCCA lobby (to catch the next performance lined up in the Karnabal Festival) when I realised that we’d stumbled into a moment in a story…
The streets had been closed off to cars. Barbara’s, the restaurant across San Agustin church had put tables and chairs out on the sidewalk and cobblestone road. A few people were sitting down to order dinner. The lamps flickered with yellow light. The guards, dressed in their guradia civil uniforms, walked down the street towards us just as a bride and her groom stepped out of the church.
It had rained earlier that day and so the bride picked up the skirts of her wedding dress; filling her arms with clouds of white silk, showing off her white stockings and white square-heeled shoes, she began making her way up the cobblestone road. The guards tipped their hats at her. “Congratulations!” they said.
We were in a hurry, so we had to take in the scene while walking quickly in the same direction as the bride, and I was feeling quite out-of-place in my modern/casual clothes. As we made our way up the street, overtaking the magical scene, we were forced to stop. Just ahead of us, the street was filled with bubbles. Large bubbles floating in the air. Children were running up and down the street, trying to pop the bubbles and shrieking with glee. To our right, we saw a man with an interesting contraption and soon realised he was behind all the bubbles. “Stop! Let me take your picture,” JK said. So I walked ahead a little and half-turned with a smile.
Down the street flooded in yellow light, the bride and her groom were also stopped in the middle of the road, watching the bubbles, which were beginning to float all around them. The rest of the wedding party along with the diners at Barbara’s watched the bride.
“We stepped into the scene of a Gabriel Garcia-Marquez novel,” I told JK. He laughed and we continued to hurry up the street.
It was a lovely moment of magic in the walled city.